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About Derby

Derby is located in the East Midlands on the banks of the River Derwent and has Danish, Saxon and Roman origins. As recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086, Derby had a substantial population of 2,000 this is now in the order of 250,000. The city has always been an important trading centre and by the Middle Ages, Derby had already become quite an important town for wool and leather with many skilled workers producing gloves and saddles. During the 17th and 18th centuries it was the cloth and porcelain industries that flourished. The Victorian era that followed was an important period for building in Derby with ostentatious new houses being built in the areas of Normanton and Peartree. Large country houses were also constructed by wealthy industrialists in the attractive countryside of the Peak District which adjoins the city.

The city’s historic heritage is largely portrayed by the conservation of some of its industrial buildings, such as the Derwent Valley Mills Site (the first modern factory) which stretches from Matlock Bath along the river. The buildings in Derby survived the Second World War, however, the construction of the contentious ring road meant the demolition of a large number of historic 18th century houses and the only Georgian square in the city. The architectural style of modern Derby reflects its multicultural nature and can now only be described as varied. Some of the more modern buildings particularly those located on St Alkmunds Way such as the Jury’s Inn and the campus of Derby College have dominated the more traditional landmarks on the skyline. Nevertheless, the city has successfully retained a number of interesting buildings including the elegant Georgian Town House built and owned by Architect Joseph Pickford, now the Pickfords House Museum.

In the 20th and 21st centuries industry in Derby focused on railway engineering, the making of aircraft engines and the textiles industry. As well as the traditional textile industries the city has also been at the forefront of the synthetic textile movement. Recently, as in the rest of the country manufacturing has been declining. The future of Derby’s rail sector has also been left in the balance by the loss of a lucrative government contract for the Thames Link Project. However, the industry and its dependent businesses are endeavouring to carve out a future for Derby and retain its hard earned industrial reputation.